Yes, Hair Products Can Expire. Here's How To Tell If Yours Have Gone Bad

Makeup. Lotion. Perfumes. Your favorite beauty and self-care products don't last forever. Once opened, the expiration clock begins ticking for various makeup or skincare products—and here's how to know the shelf life of your favorite skincare products to avoid using anything that has expired. If your makeup, perfume, or lotion has expired, throw it out. Believe us, you do not want to use skin or products that have expired (here's what happens to your skin if you use expired makeup).

But it isn't only skincare, makeup, and beauty items that are susceptible to a best-if-used-by date. In addition to paying attention to the shelf life of products used on your skin, look at your hair care items. Hair products can expire, and just like with your skin, your hair won't benefit from ineffective—or potentially contaminated—-products. Here is how to check to see if your shampoo, conditioner, or hair gel has gone bad.

Do hair products list an expiration date?

Some hair products have an expiration date or period after opening (PAO) timeline that indicates how long the item will last. But according to, the FDA does not require beauty product distributors to explicitly place a best-buy, expiration date, or PAO indicator on items' packaging.

But even if your item has a PAO number, it isn't necessarily easy to read and understand. The symbol for a PAO number is a small jar with an "M." On that jar, there will be a number. That number indicates how many months after opening your product will stay good, per Reader's Digest. If the symbol has a "12M," your item will last a year after opening it, if it has "6M," it will last six months, and so on.

If your product has no date that signals it is past its prime, you'll need to pay attention to certain features to see if it has expired.

Check for weird smells, textures, and changes to your hair to tell if your hair product has expired

You will likely notice the major tells that your hair product has gone bad. If something seems off with a product you have been using for quite a while, it may be time to retire it. "Use common sense if the product does not look like what you initially purchased and has changed over time," cosmetic chemist Ginger King told Allure. Unusual smells and curdled textures may indicate that your product has expired. If you notice that your product doesn't seem to be working as well and has resulted in changes to your hair, you may need to toss it.

While ineffective hair products are mostly just an annoying waste of time, major health concerns may arise if you ignore the expiration dates on your hair items. According to the Mestiza Muse, even if the product looks alright, expired hair products can be the hosting ground for microbes that could damage your scalp.

Pay attention to the products you put in your hair. Checking for an expiration date or PAO indicator and doing common-sense checks on your products will keep your hair clean, safe, and stylish.